TOKYO, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- The Bank of Japan (BOJ) on Friday said it will buy Japanese government bonds (JGB) in a surprise operation aimed at bringing down a recent surge in JGB yields.
The emergency move may suggest the central bank is nervous about the United States' view of its monetary easing policy, particularly in light of recent remarks made by U.S. President Donald Trump accusing Japan of "playing the money markets" and deliberately manipulating the yen to the U.S.'s disadvantage.
The remarks were made while although monetary policy by the BOJ and the Finance Ministry has been designed with a weak yen in mind, Japan has still been struggling economically.
According to the latest data, the world's third-largest economy has been struggling with slumping domestic and overseas demand, falling consumer sentiment and tense capital expenditure.
Household spending, a key indicator of consumer sentiment, has also been on a predominantly downward trajectory.
This is a predicament for the BOJ and the government as they're scrambling to to reach their 2 percent inflation goal and private consumption accounts for 60 percent of Japan's GDP.
This being the fact, however, and not withstanding Japan's "quagmire-like" struggle to escape deflation, Japan has not for a long time unilaterally delved into currency markets to curb the yen's rise.
The BOJ on Friday, however, offered to buy benchmark 10-year Japanese government bonds in a special operation aimed at keeping the 10-year yield at its target of around zero percent.
"The yen might continue to weaken against the dollar after today's action," said Masashi Murata, senior currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman.
"Some participants may have concerns about the BOJ's previous actions, or lack of action, when JGB yields have risen, so it's a good signal. But my feeling is that BOJ also doesn't want to keep expanding their balance sheet," Murata said.
A day after Trump accused Japan of being a currency manipulator, at just past 10:00 a.m. local time on Friday morning, the BOJ said it would boost purchases of government bonds with maturities of more than five to 10 years to 450 billion yen (3.98 billion yen) from 410 billion yen as had been planed initially.
The central bank, sources close to the matter said, announced its fixed-rate buying operation, aiming to douse speculation that it may start tapering its aggressive monetary easing measures amid pressure from Trump.
The BOJ said it would buy an "unlimited" amount of Japanese government bonds with maturities of more than five to 10 years.
But while the central bank's recently introduced yield curve control policy has helped quash rises in Japan's long-term interest rates, Japan-U.S. interest rate differences may further widen looking ahead.
The U.S. currency has risen around 10 percent against the yen, after Trump won the U.S. election.